Makuzu Kozan Porcelain Pot, ca. 1914

Value (2004) | $3,000 Auction$10,000 Insurance

GUEST:
This was a gift to my husband's paternal grandparents by Chinese laborers that worked for them in Keeler, California, where they had a potash plant. And his grandparents were both held in very high esteem, because his grandmother served as a midwife and helped all the Chinese there. And his grandfather made the promise to the Chinese laborers that if they were to pass away while in this country that he would send their bodies back home to China. And he was as good as his word and always did that, so this was a gift from the Chinese to them.

APPRAISER:
Really?

GUEST:
This was around the early 1900s.

APPRAISER:
Okay, the first thing I observe about it is the shape, and it's a very modern shape, but it's based on an ancient Chinese bronze form that's called a censer, and it was used for burning incense. Now, that's not what this was used for, but that's the basis of this design. The other thing I notice is the incredible delicacy of the design itself. What you see is a flock of birds resting after a long flight from their migration on a placid sea. And as we go around, you can see how very finely detailed the whole scene is. And if you look at the legs, you can see that they're actually modeled to look like cloud scrolls.

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
The other observation is that it's made of porcelain, and this very stark white color is characteristic of porcelain not from China but from Japan.

GUEST:
Is that right?

APPRAISER:
And this very detailed decoration is a good example of the type of ware that was made in Japan around the turn of the century. And as we look at this, we notice that it also is a wave pattern... Which fits very nicely with the design of the porcelain. When I turn it over, and I see on the inside, there's a little label. And that label reads "$25." That was a lot of money around the turn of the century. I mean, that was several months' wages. But it also has a name, Kozan-- K-o-z-a-n.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm, I noticed that.

APPRAISER:
So, when you're looking at Asian porcelain, one of the things you always want to do is look at the base. And on the underside, what we see is this mark, and the mark actually reads "Makuzu Kozan made." Now, Makuzu Kozan was the most famous of all the Japanese art pottery makers, ceramic makers in the 20th century. He explored new techniques, he was innovative, and he was excellent in what he did. The quality of his work is exceptional. And Makuzu Kozan died in 1916, so this is one of his latter works. And it was made during a period called the Taisho period, which is 1912 to 1926. The only flaw we've got is that it does have a crack.

GUEST:
I see that now. I didn't notice that.

APPRAISER:
You're going to keep this, I would assume.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
So you'd like to know what it's worth for insurance?

GUEST:
Yes, definitely, or for resale.

APPRAISER:
I would say for resale probably somewhere in the $3,000-to-$5,000 range, but for insurance I'd put $10,000 on it.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
So it's really special to have a Makuzu Kozan example. It doesn't turn up very often.

GUEST:
Thank you.

APPRAISER:
And to have the original top that goes with it even more exceptional.

GUEST:
I'm surprised it wasn't Chinese.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Lark Mason Associates
New York, NY
Appraised value (2004)
$3,000 Auction$10,000 Insurance
Event
Reno, NV (August 14, 2004)
Period
20th Century
Form
Pot
Material
Porcelain

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